Kowloon Motor Bus

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Kowloon Motor Bus
Kowloon Motor Bus facelifted Wright Gemini 3 bodied Volvo B8L in March 2019
ParentTransport International
Founded13 April 1933; 90 years ago (1933-04-13)
HeadquartersLai Chi Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong[1]
Service areaHong Kong
Service typeBus services
AllianceLong Win Bus
Routes423 (2021)[2]
Fleet4001 (2021)[2]
Daily ridership2.4 million (2021)[2]
Annual ridership891.3 million (2021)[2]
Fuel type
Websitewww.kmb.hk Edit this at Wikidata
Kowloon Motor Bus
Traditional Chinese九龍巴士(一九三三)公司
Simplified Chinese九龙巴士(一九三三)公司

The Kowloon Motor Bus Company (1933) Limited (KMB) is a bus company operating franchised services in Hong Kong. It is the largest bus company in Hong Kong by fleet size and number of bus routes, with over 4000 buses and 420 routes. It is a subsidiary of Transport International.


Preserved AEC Regent V in April 2012
MCW Metrobus
Duple Metsec bodied Dennis Dragon
KMB's first air-conditioned bus, a 1988 Alexander RH bodied Leyland Olympian
Wright Eclipse Gemini 2 bodied Volvo B9TL
Caetano bodied Scania K230UB
Alexander ALX500 bodied Volvo Super Olympian

KMB was founded on 13 April 1933 as a result of the reformation of public transport by the Hong Kong Government. Before the reformation, there were several independent bus operators working on both sides of Victoria Harbour including KMB.

The Hong Kong Government enforces the bus franchises in favour of the franchisees, while it prosecutes the operators of unauthorised private bus services and other types of authorised bus service that pick up or drop off passengers in franchised bus parking zones.[3]

The KMB franchise allowed for the operation of public omnibus service on the Kowloon side as well as the New Territories. By 11 June 1933, KMB had a fleet of 106 single-deck buses.[4]

The founding members of KMB were:

By the time of December 1941, KMB had 140 single-deckers operating on 17 routes. As only a handful of buses survived World War II, some lorries were temporarily converted into buses. By the late 1940s, KMB ridership increased with the huge influx of immigration from Mainland China. In 1949, KMB bought 20 Daimler double-deckers from England, becoming the first operator of double-deckers in Hong Kong.[4]

Following the opening of the Cross-Harbour Tunnel in 1972, KMB operated a number of cross-harbour routes jointly with China Motor Bus, the sole bus operator on Hong Kong Island. This marked the first time KMB buses running on the island.[4] In the same year, KMB began experimenting with buses operating without a fare collector. All passengers would board from the front door and pay the fare by putting money into the collection box next to the driver.[1]

In 1996, KMB launched an advertising campaign to promote modern image. It is the first bus company advertising in Hong Kong.[5]

On 1 June 1997, KMB formed a subsidiary, Long Win Bus, to provide service on the Lantau Link to the new Hong Kong International Airport and Tung Chung.[6][7] In 1998, KMB extended its business into mainland China with a co-operative joint venture, Dalian Hong Kong Macau Company. In 1999, due to the abuse of the free fare imposed on KCR East Rail feeder routes (K12 - K18) as non-franchised buses, the KCR signed a contract with KMB which stated that these routes are operated de facto by the KMB as franchised bus routes while all profits goes to the KCR corporation; this contract is still in effect after the KCR-MTR merger.

In July 2007, KMB commenced operating a 10-year franchise, that has since been renewed until June 2027.[8][9] In April 2023, KMB celebrated its 90th anniversary.[10][11]


As of December 2021, KMB operated 423 routes in Kowloon and the New Territories, and operates cross-harbour tunnel routes in which some are operated in co-operation with the two other bus operators Citybus and New World First Bus, while some are operated by themselves solely.[12] The following is the numbering system of bus routes that the KMB currently adapts:

Numbering System by numbers and district[edit]

Routes 200-299 previously meant deluxe bus services provided by the KMB (similar to the P prefix shown below), and in the 1990s, all 2xx routes provided air conditioned bus services only. Since the withdrawal of the last non air-conditioned bus in 2012, all bus routes operated by the KMB uses air-conditioned buses, hence this assignment had practically lost its meaning.

Letter Assignments in bus routes[edit]

  • Prefixes
    • A: Airport deluxe routes
    • B: Border area routes
    • E: North Lantau external routes, mainly serves Tung Chung and the airport logistics area.
    • H: Hospital routes, operated one during the 2002–2004 SARS outbreak
    • K: Feeder routes to railway lines operated formerly by the Kowloon–Canton Railway Corporation, de facto operated by the MTR (not to be confused with the K prefix routes operated by the MTR themselves)
    • M: Feeder routes to the Airport Express (MTR), now cancelled
    • N: Overnight routes
    • P: Deluxe bus services for cross-harbour new territories routes (eg. P960, P968)
    • R: Routes for special events
    • T: Express bus routes to help relief the heavy passenger load of the East Rail line[13]
    • W: Feeder routes to the Shenzhen–Hong Kong high-speed train terminus at West Kowloon Station
    • X: Express routes
    • Y: Routes operated during Typhoons for Park Island
  • Suffixes:
    • A-F: May represent independent routes (eg. 2, 2A, 2B, 2D, 2E and 2F) or branches of a main route (eg. 33 and 33B)
    • E: Express bus routes for some cases such as 40E and 87E
    • H: Hospital routes (eg. 14H, 32H)
    • K: Feeder routes to railway lines operated formerly by the Kowloon–Canton Railway Corporation, ie. the East Rail line and the Tuen Ma line (not to be confused with the K prefix)
    • M: Feeder routes to railway lines operated by the MTR Corporation
    • P: Peak hour routes, although some provide full day services (eg. 40P)
    • R: Routes operated during public holidays and/or public events with the exception of 5R, which provides full day service
    • S: Special routes, including some overnight routes, routes operated due to big events or peak hour routes
    • X: Express bus routes


Passengers pay the fare in cash (no change given) or using an Octopus card, a smart card payment system. Discounts apply for Octopus users on specified route interchange combinations. To enable elderly people and eligible persons with disabilities to travel on the general Mass Transit Railway (MTR) lines, franchised buses and ferries are charged concessionary fare of $2 per trip, starting from 2012. The scheme aims to help build a caring and inclusive society by encouraging these groups to participate more in community activities.[14][15]

In 2018, KMB launched the KMB Monthly Pass. Fares are fixed at HK$780, and are not applicable to MTR Feeder Bus services operated by KMB. Holders are able to take 10 rides on ordinary routes and 2 rides on route B1 per day during the validity month of the pass. Passes can be purchased using an Octopus card at machines installed at major public transport interchanges and bus terminals.[16]


As of the end of 2021, Kowloon Motor Bus operated a fleet of 4001 buses.[2] 584 Euro VI buses (including 3 diesel-electric buses), 2,935 Euro V buses and 10 battery-electric buses.[2]

KMB traditionally purchased buses from English manufacturers including AEC, Daimler, Dennis, Guy Motors, Leyland, Metro Cammell Weymann and Seddon, that either were bodied in England or locally.[17][18][19][20]

In 1975, the first air-conditioned bus in Hong Kong was put into service by KMB. Following the testing of double-deck air-conditioned buses Victory and Jubilant in the early 1980s, KMB became the world's first operator of such buses.[21] All purchases after 1995 were for air-conditioned buses. In May 2012, KMB withdrew its last non-air-conditioned buses from service.[22] Some of the newer third-generation buses have solar photovoltaic panels installed on the roof which reduces fuel use by 5-8% which would otherwise be used for the air conditioner. This is expected to reduce 6 t (5.9 LT) of carbon emissions on each bus per year.[23]

In the late 1970s, it began to purchase chassis from European manufacturers MAN, Mercedes-Benz, Scania and Volvo.[24][25]

KMB's original liveries were combinations of red and cream. In the early 1990s, a white and grey livery was introduced for air-conditioned buses, followed in 1997 by a champagne livery. In June 2017, a red and silver livery was introduced, as well as a new logo, dropping its character and Chinese slogan, retaining only the wordmark, but with a darker shade of red.[26][27]

In the 2020s, KMB introduced a vivid "Electric Green" livery on zero emission buses.[28][29] KMB expects to have 500 battery electric buses by the end of 2025, which will account for an eighth of the total bus fleet.[2][23]


KMB operate four depots in Kowloon and the New Territories.[30] The depot of a bus is identified by the letter K, L, S, or U, and the letter is marked on the bottom left of the driver's windscreen or below windscreen. The assignment scheme is as follows:

In addition, these depots with the exception of the Kowloon Bay Depot are responsible for the maintenece of part of the fleet owned by Long Win Bus, since the KMB and LWB are owned by the same parent company.

Football team[edit]

Kowloon Motor Bus also has a Hong Kong football club, Kowloon Motor Bus Co. It was formed in 1947 and joined Hong Kong First Division League in the 1947/48 season. Nicknamed "Atomic Bus", the team obtained the only two league titles in 1953/54 and 1966/67. The team attained its peak in the 1950s and 1960s when the "South China - Kowloon Motor Bus Co. crash" (南巴大戰) was one of the highlighted rival matches in Hong Kong. In 1970/71, the team faced their first relegation, but was able to stay in the First Division as Jardines quit the league in the following season. However, the team were relegated in 1972/73. It made its last First Division League appearance in 1976/77, but was relegated after only one season. The football team quit the league in 1981 and reformed in 2017.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Kowloon Motor Bus Co 1993 Ltd/The". Bloomberg. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g 九巴透視2021:More about KMB (PDF) (Report). Kowloon Motor Bus Company. 30 May 2022. Retrieved 21 August 2022.
  3. ^ Lai, Lawrence Wai Chung; Davies, Stephen Nicholas Guy; Cheung, Alvin Polycarp Cho Wing (August 2011). "Government Transport Land-use Planning and Development by Implicit Contract for Franchised Buses and Ferries in Hong Kong, 1933–1972" (PDF). Planning Practice and Research. 26 (4): 435–466. doi:10.1080/02697459.2011.582395. hdl:10722/145931. ISSN 0269-7459. S2CID 153865445.
  4. ^ a b c d Milestones Kowloon Motor Bus
  5. ^ Finer, Jonathan, “King of the road” Far Eastern Economic Review, Feb 7, 2002, Vol.165 (5), pp.36-40
  6. ^ About LWB Long Win Bus Company
  7. ^ Company Overview Transport International Holdings
  8. ^ Grant of new franchise to Kowloon Motor Bus Company (1933) Limited Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region 28 March 2017
  9. ^ Hong Kong bus operator Kowloon Motor Bus company granted new 10-year franchise South China Morning Post 28 March 2017
  10. ^ "Next-gen' Enviro500EV arrives for KMB's 90th". Bus & Coach Buyer. 24 April 2023. Retrieved 24 April 2023. operator's celebration of its 90th birthday
  11. ^ "九巴90周年慶祝典禮暨嘉年華 逾萬名市民同樂 展示雙層電巴和活動式太陽能板 向90歲員工頒榮譽嘉許大獎". Kowloon Motor Bus (in Chinese). 22 April 2023. Retrieved 24 April 2023.
  12. ^ "The Kowloon Motor Bus Co. (1933) Ltd 九龍巴士(一九三三)". kmb.hk. Retrieved 24 April 2023. How many routes does KMB operate? As of 31 December 2021, KMB provided franchised public bus services with 423 routes covering Kowloon, the New Territories, and Hong Kong Island.
  13. ^ "立法會一題:繁忙時段的巴士服務".
  14. ^ "Bus-Bus Interchange System". Kowloon Motor Bus. 2007. Retrieved 6 December 2007.
  15. ^ "KMB fares cut on day trains reduce prices". The Standard. 2007. Archived from the original on 22 May 2011. Retrieved 6 December 2007.
  16. ^ "Launch of KMB monthly pass scheme approved". www.info.gov.hk. Retrieved 2 September 2021.
  17. ^ Orders & Deliveries Commercial Motor 27 November 1964
  18. ^ Giant Daimlers for Hong Kong Commercial Motor 18 March 1966
  19. ^ Twin-steer Big J tractive unit Commercial Motor 9 September 1966
  20. ^ 100 Seddonn Buses for Hong Kong Commercial Motor 24 May 1957
  21. ^ Kowloon Coaches Commercial Motor 12 July 1980
  22. ^ Farewell to KMB Non-Air Conditioned Buses Kowloon Motor Bus 10 May 2012
  23. ^ a b Sustainability Report 2021 (PDF) (Report). Kowloon Motor Bus Company. Retrieved 21 August 2022.
  24. ^ Alexander's HK Merc Commercial Motor 12 March 1983
  25. ^ Ailsa for Kowloon Commercial Motor 17 November 1978
  26. ^ Red buses coming to a stop near you The Standard 5 May 2017
  27. ^ Li, Jane (22 June 2017). "KMB's new red and silver buses to greet Hongkongers by end of June". South China Morning Post.
  28. ^ "Next-gen' Enviro500EV arrives for KMB's 90th". Bus & Coach Buyer. 24 April 2023. Retrieved 24 April 2023. the Enviro500EV has a vivid green finish that KMB has adopted for these buses under a 'Green is Good' slogan.
  29. ^ Sinclair, Ashleigh (20 December 2022). "KMB receives first electric double-decker". CBW. Retrieved 24 April 2023. Painted in 'electric green'
  30. ^ Annual report for year ended 31 December 2017 Transport International

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]